Five of the best stunts to have sailed the Thames’ murky waters

June 4th, 2015 / Sophie Allen

Is it a duck? Is it a boat? No, it’s Airbnb floating a fully furnished and plumbed two-storey house down the Thames.

May’s publicity stunt launched Airbnb’s new service for London homeowners, who are now able to rent out their properties for up to 90 days of the year. And, like any good stunt, there really was no missing it.

"When you said 'river view'..."

“When you said ‘river view’…”

So in honour of Airbnb’s recent water-based stunt, we’ve collected together some of our favourite things to have floated down the Thames in the name of sweet publicity. In no particular order, we have:

1) Michael Jackson (1995)

"Call the coastguard! There's a Smooth Criminal on the water!"

Hold me, like the river of Jordan.” (Thanks, Virgin Media, for the image).

Well, a Michael Jackson statue, anyway. This gigantic spectacle took to the tides to promote MJ’s HIStory tour.

2) A huge rubber duck (2012)

A giant rubber duck sails down river Thames

This is either the Thames or a really decadent bathtub. (Image from The Guardian).

This 50ft high duck paddled about the financial district to promote Jackpotjoy.com’s Facebook FUNdation campaign.

3) Giant, glowing balls (2013)

Lottery balls, that is!

Lottery balls, that is!

To celebrate the launch of the new and improved National Lottery (and, erm, drag attention away from the more expensive tickets) a set of six gigantic lottery balls set sail through London.

4) A polar bear (2009)

I don't even know anymore.

This’d make a great Disney film.

This floating slice of environmental heartbreak had the dual purpose of promoting the launch of Eden, a new natural history channel, and raising awareness of the melting polar ice caps.

5) A golf course (2012)

That's one hell of a water hazard.

That’s one hell of a water hazard.

This stunt promoted golf’s inclusion in the 2016 Olympics, and ran just before the start of London 2012.

Hilariously random though all this may seem, the Thames is ultimately an extremely prominent location that’s absolutely guaranteed to grab the attention not only of the commuters crossing London Bridge, but also the thousands of tourists that filter into the big city each day.

And, especially in today’s Twitter and Facebook saturated environment, the novelty and ridiculousness of this kind of stunt means it’s bound to be shared, shared and shared again right across the world.

So it’s no surprise really that marketing on water is actually a super effective way of getting people talking, and Airbnb are far from the first company to have cottoned on.

We guess it turns out that the best channels to get people’s attention aren’t necessarily those on social media, but the ones filled with water… and the occasional shopping trolley.

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